The biggest financial group in Denmark, Danske Bank, is no longer going to invest customers’ capital in companies that enter new contracts of weapon and military equipment export to Saudi-Arabia, announces Danica Pension, the group’s pension provider, in Danish newspaper Information.
"We have decided to support the government’s ban on weapon export to Saudi-Arabia,” says Anders Svennesen, Head of Investment at Danske Bank Asset Management and Danica Pension.
The new policy is a response to revelations made by Information last week that showed 14 out of the 17 biggest pension providers as shareholders of weapon suppliers to Saudi-Arabia. Altogether, the pension providers have shares worth at least DKK 1.13bn in companies that deliver bombs, combat aircrafts, spare parts, and more to the Saudi military.
In November, Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Anders Samuelsen (Liberal Allicance, LA) chose to ban Danish companies from exporting weapons to Saudi-Arabia, and this policy is what Danica Pension has decided to extend to foreign companies subject to their investments. To begin, Danica Pension is talking to General Electric of which the pension provider owns DKK 86m worth of shares.
"We have explained the importance of them meeting the same requirements as a Denmark-based company in this area in order for us to justify investments in their company, says Anders Svennesen. "So we’re doing everything in our power to turn our government’s export ban into a global one so not only Danish but international companies, too, will choose the same path.
General Electric provides engines for combat aircrafts and more to the Saudi air force. Should General Electric continue to deliver military supplies to Saudi-Arabia, which any Danish company would not be allowed to export, there will be consequences, says Anders Svennesen.
"Naturally, if the company is unable to work in line with the new guidelines, we will sell off our shares and exclude General Electric going forward," he says.
General Secretary at Amnesty International Denmark, Trine Christensen, is pleased with the announcement. "It sends a powerful message to other pension providers as well as to the companies that they’ve made investments in about not tolerating this kind of violation of human rights and potential war crimes."
This article was distributed by Ritzau on behalf of Information.
English edit: Karen Moesgaard.